Detach from Negativity: Practice Gratitude

 In Blog

Many of you may be familiar with Jocko Willink and his book Extreme Ownership. If you are not familiar, Jocko was the commander of SEAL Task Unit Bruiser during the Iraq War and, most notably, during the Battle of Ramadi. For anyone who follows Jocko on Instagram, you will notice that he is sadistically obsessed with waking up at 4:30am every morning to attack his day in a fashion that would make most people extremely uncomfortable (speaking of discomfort, this topic was covered in the previous blog post).

When featured on the Tim Ferris podcast, Commander Willink discussed the notion of detachment: we must remain emotionally detached from the fear and negativity associated with difficult decisions and life’s many challenges in order to succeed. He goes on to ask, “what is the absolute worst-case scenario here?” and proposes that you are always prepared for that scenario; you should remain detached from the emotions associated with your decisions knowing full well that you are able to handle whatever situation may crop up. As Mike Tyson famously said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Roll with the punches, remain calm to remain in control.

We will discuss the notion of detachment and how to properly utilize it in order to succeed at a later date; however, an important precursor to being able to detach yourself from emotional negativity is to engage in a daily practice of gratitude. It is very easy to maintain a “grass is greener” approach to life and look at the success of others in an envious fashion. Realizing that you too can achieve that same level of success begins by also realizing that right now, at this very second, you have a tremendous amount to be grateful for. The next time you are having a bad day, realize that there is always someone in the world who is worse off than you are. Realize still that there are many people who are worse off than you are and also happier than you are. How is this possible?

Mo Gawdat, chief business officer at Google X, proposed a “happiness equation” when he was forced to deal with the sudden death of his son, Ali. Gawdat battled depression, and came to a very important realization that helped him pull himself out of those dark times: “happiness is greater than or equal to your perception of the events in your life, minus your expectation of how life should behave.” In summary, Gawdat believes that our default state is to be happy. As we mature, our perception of our life, in comparison to what we expect from life, begins to skew our emotions towards being unhappy.

I challenge you, starting today at this very second, to write down one thing every single day that you are grateful for. Write it down, read it to yourself, and then read it to yourself again before you go to sleep. Are you grateful for your parents and their unconditional love when raising you? Are you grateful for your spouse and their support of your career and goals? Are you grateful for your friends when they have been there for you in times of need? Are you are grateful for the ability to wake up every day and walk from your bedroom to the bathroom? Pick something, just one thing, every single day without exception. You will very quickly realize how much focusing on what you have, versus what you do not have, can change that very perception of your life in comparison to your expectations.

Until next time.


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